One of well-known, disciplined and brave soldiers of the Forest Department in Coimbatore, kumki Nanjan is no more. The tusker died of illness in Mettupalayam on Wednesday afternoon around 2.30 p.m., the department sources said.
For the past few weeks, it was not keeping well. And for the last seven days or so the 56-year-old did not have food as it was suffering from wounds in its jaw, said Forest Department Veterinarian N.S. Manoharan. The pachyderm was also in masth. He said the Coimbatore Forest Division under DFO M. Senthil Kumar and rangers provided the best possible treatment to the elephant by even availing of the services of elephant expert K.C. Panicker.
The department had rescued Nanjan more than 50 years ago as a six-year-old in Anamalai Tiger Reserve when it fell into a pit. It trained the elephant to be a kumki to be used in various department activities.
Nanjan had protected Coimbatore villages in forest periphery by chasing away wild elephants. As recently as a couple of months ago, it along with another kumki Pari had chased away a lone tusker from Kuppeplayam, Dhaliyur and a few other villages.
The villagers celebrated the elephants as if they were heroes.
Mr. Kumar said that Nanjan was also involved in chasing away a lone tusker from a factory premises in Hosur. It was also instrumental in taming down and capturing a few wild elephants. Wildlife enthusiasts N.I. Jalaludeen said that the villagers in forest boundary would more appreciate the role the brave elephant had played than the city dwellers. For it had helped many a person sleep in peace. Umesh Marudachalam, an animal lover, said that the elephant’s loss is irreparable. It was one of the disciplined animals that was also intelligent and responsive.
But Nanjan’s death is not without controversy. A few enthusiasts wanted to know why the department officials took it to the Mettupalayam elephant camp when it was in masth. They said that they had objected to it then as the elephant was not in a good shape.
It was the shifting of the elephant to the camp that had led to the deterioration in health.